Red White & Blue Hens

College students in Delaware who think right is right, and left is wrong. We study hard, party hard, and play hardball.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Some of my personal comments on Katrina

I think a lot of the negative feelings about this have been caused by the 24/7 media's obsession with speed and instant results. Remember that the only really comparable hurricane aftermath, Andrew in 1992, came only a few months after the real acceptance of CNN and its 24 hour news format. Now there are close to a dozen 24/7 channels and of course the internet that live on instant action and analysis.

The situation that was faced in the first 48 hours was a logistical nightmare of massive proportions. Things were being done continuously from four or five days prior to landfall and have ceased to wane one little bit. The problem was that all of this was being observed from a drinking straw viewpoint, namely cameras and reporters in New Orleans. While pictures of the destruction were being looped on TV, half of the nation was moving their people, equipment and resources to the affected area (equal to the size of the UK) as fast as possible. The first on scene were helicopters, because, well...they can fly.

(note: you can't just drop food from a chopper into a mob, unless you want lots of dead trampled people. You certainly can't land an aircraft without a secure Landing Zone either. Many people are unaware how dangerous it is to be around a chopper when you have no experience with one. The tail-roter is a human-dicing machine that almost no one knows about. (its the first thing you are taught when working with a helicopter for rescue or medical missions) Imagine 200 people who haven't eaten in 24 hours running up to the bird. That would become very messy fast, not to mention damage the aircraft making it worthless. Take it from someone who has seen it come real close to happening)

But most everything else was streaming to the area via convoy, and 18 wheelers and humvees can only go so fast. The intitial responsibility for emergency response is always upon the first responders, local and state authorities, but in this case nature destroyed this capability. 145 mph wind, 15 inches of rain, a 20 ft wall of ocean, and broken levees allowing millions of gallons into the below-sea-level city made the local and state response virtually impossible. Thus the seemingly empty space between landfall and the arrival of federal resources and authority. Chalk one (well maybe a couple) up for Nature in the Run column, and leave the Error column alone.


  • At 9:21 AM, Blogger M. McKain said…

    Stories such the one about the Duke students who made it into New Orleans in a 2-wheel drive Hyundai and performed rescues days before federal help arrive make me wonder about the validity of federal excuses (, as do reports that Canadian mounties arrived on the second day in St. Bernard Parish, while the Feds didn't arrive until day five or six (

    While great credit is due to those who have and are helping in relief efforts, we should not just accept that the governemnt did the best it could - even if that's the case, its best simply was not good enough.

  • At 2:23 PM, Blogger delacrat said…

    Don't take the easy way and point at the media -- that's all to popular among partisan politics, so that neither side takes any crap. So, I challenge you to come up with a better argument rather than playing to the easiest target.

  • At 3:31 PM, Blogger DERepublican said…

    One of the reasons why federal assistance could not arrive is the Governor of Louisiana in her incompetence failed to sign the paperwork necessary for the fed to take action.

    I think it's sick that much of the errors in competence lie right now with the mayor of New Orleans and the Governor, and yet you attempt to completely ignore that fact because they're Democrats.

    Maybe if you looked at the whole objectively you'd be in a more informed situation.

    Also, the liberal media reported a death toll over 10,000, yet there haven't been more than 200 dead bodies found to date. The liberal media invoked racism and followed the likes of Al Sharpton and Kanye West in saying racism was involved. Although over 80% of Americans believe this not to be true (gallup), and in reality it is a sick and obscene charge, you still attempt to stick by such notions? What a lack of common sense.

    Sorry, but the media is responsible for fearmongering and pretty crappy reporting. I think i saw the same pictures and video feed of "despair" on the news for at least 4 days straight. Yet they couldn't find any new video feed to stand by their accusations?

    Your defense of them to no end is just sick.

  • At 5:44 PM, Blogger M. McKain said…

    Equally "sick" is the blind defense of an administration and president that just today did the reasonable thing and took responsibility for federal mismanagement. I think this is the first time Bush has EVER admitted he's done something wrong. If it weren’t so sad, I’d say we should throw a party.

    A state of emergency was declared well before the hurricane ever hit - Bush may have missed that because he was still on his month long vacation. I'm not arguing, nor did I ever, that the local officials should be commended. They screwed up horribly - there was a vacuum of leadership all around.

    Secondly, the media said the death toll COULD be as high as 10,000 – no one in the mainstream media ever said it was actually that high. Those were based on the estimates of officials. Thankfully that number was significantly off, but the death toll continues to climb.

    As far as the race issue, the mainstream media simply showed the situation as it was. The fact is, most of the victims in New Orleans were poor and black. These were the people who could not afford or did not have the means to leave on their own accord. The whole country finally got to see the “Two Americas” John Edwards was referring to. The statements made by West were actually censored by what you call the "liberal media". Just because the media criticizes or questions the President doesn't mean they are "liberal" - it means they are finally, finally doing their jobs and not letting him get away with whatever he wants.

    Lastly, as far as the media showing the devastation - that WAS the news. That is what was going on. To not report it would be absurd and would only cause apathy among the American people instead of the tremendous outpouring of aid and sympathy we've witnessed. The American people deserve the truth, no matter how harsh it might be.

  • At 6:50 PM, Blogger delacrat said…

    So the media are the people that weren't organized enough to respond to this tragedy?

    The media are responsible for mismanagement in this disaster?

    I guess you weren't up to the challenge.

  • At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Mike M. said…

    Nope, not this disaster, DelaCrat. The media is mostly responsible for the Iraq War disaster. Judith Miller, et. al. They've performed quite admirably in response to Katrina, seeing as how they've failed to be lap dogs for this president's talking points BS.

  • At 10:53 AM, Blogger St. Joan of Arc said…

    Actually -

    Bush gave authorization several days before to declare a state of emergency. The state of emergency in NOLA was declared after the levees broke.

    I hardly call Bush's time in the western White House a vacation. Take one look at the news and what he was up to (besides the continual references to it as a vacation) and tell me it was a vacation.

  • At 9:35 PM, Blogger spence0422 said…

    My reference to the News Media was not regarding its political bias one way or the other, but more towards its structure. The 24 hour news cycle has created a sense in News Rooms that they have to keep attention on their channel at all times. What better way to keep attention than to loop amazing pictures of disaster. Those things certainly need to be reported, just like the casualties and acts of violence in Iraq and elsewhere need to be reported. My beef with the system is that is fails to talk about or show stories/pictures of succesfull things due to inherent qualities that make them less eye-catching. (good news in not news)
    What is more likely to catch your attention as you flip through channels, or decide to remain upon a channel:
    a) video of a starving mob of American citizens pleading to circling helicopters for help
    b)video of a convoy of 18 wheelers donated by businesses and private citizens navigating hazardous roads to reach vicitms

    Hmm... I would choose a) as would most others. The people in the news rooms know this too, so they make the right choice for their channel.

    What I am saying is that this often leads to a vast misunderstanding on the part of the viewer/consumer. Same goes with an average news story on Iraq in any American news paper: lead speaks of occurences of violence and death, middle passage mentions causalty numbers and recent trends, last few paragraphs speak of progress in political and military missions. As a former newspaper editor, all of this makes perfect sense.

    All I am saying is show/speak of/write about all parts of the story, and maybe once in a while flip the usual pattern around for those who don't have the time to read the 15th paragraph or watch Washington Journal on C-span
    Is that so much to ask?


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